Alternative Futures

The title of this blog is ChiroFutures because there are optional–and different–futures that are available. One of the most important assessments of these futures and professional options was conducted by the Institute for Alternative Futures and published in 1998, commissioned by NCMIC and administered by the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research (now defunct).

This assessment looked at several options, using predictive modeling to rank various scenarios that would have different impacts on the profession (contrasting different numbers of DCs sustainable in the marketplace in each case). It was in the initial modeling that IAF highlighted an enormous opportunity: that for the US public, no profession had moved to capture prime position as a trusted and respected source of health and wellness information. The profession took notice, but did not capitalize on the opportunity. As a result, in chiropractic alone there is a substantially fragmented approach to health and wellness–and little consensus (no surprise) on what that even means in the various clinical and philosophic paradigms visible within the profession.

For reasons either based on a desire for further clarity, masochism, or both, the profession engaged the IAF to revisit the issue in 2005 in a publication titled The Future of Chiropractic Revisited: 2005 to 2015.

The original report is available on the IAF web site here, and the followup report here. It is sobering to read the clarity of the recommendations in the initial report, and the precision of the predicted outcomes, now with the benefit of more than twelve years of hindsight.

The question is still before us, although the market opportunity is now vastly more complicated and competitive than it was in either 1998 or 2005: what will be our role and position in health care? What are, in effect, our core competencies in therapeutics and relationships–both with patients/consumers and professional peers? What do we need to do to ensure viability as a profession and success for its members?

The IAF laid out a very clear vision. Because the profession has not seized the opportunity with any degree of consensus and common direction, in my view we are weaker than perhaps at any point in our history. Yet the curious thing about our profession is that it’s not too late, which is remarkable given all the opportunities we’ve pass up. But now, in 2010, the health and wellness marketplace is showing signs of consolidation. Our window may, at last, be closing on the ability to establish anything that has profession-wide benefit.

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